Wednesday, 23 June 2010
First of all, thank you to everybody, Stephany, Rossa, and, well, you know who you are, for your understanding, support, and your critique, and not least for the "reminder" to keep my cool another time. No, my approach wasn't exactly buddhist.
I saw the picture of Mark Becker, and read the post, and what both immediately turned into in my mind was a mug shot of me, and a call to have me locked up and thrown away the key (= feed me Geodon, if necessary -- and I can assure everybody that it would be necessary -- forcibly). I actually went right into the trap of ego-identification, and my ego, feeling deeply insulted, threw the insult back at Doug Bremner, supplying him with the ammunition to fire back at me with. And so he did. I asked for it, I got it.
This is what The Drama is made of: get at people, and make them react. Add to that the ingredient of denying that you were getting at them ("We're only trying to help you!"), and what you get is madness. Because unless they've seen through these dynamics, people will inevitably start and yell louder and louder in their desperate attempt to make the other recognize and admit to that what they're doing isn't helpful in any way, but actually harmful, and stop it. And if you just yell loud enough, all of a sudden you fit the criteria for a psych label, all of a sudden your protesting becomes symptoms of an illness. What up to then was "You must be crazy to imagine this" or "You're not quite right in the head to think that" something along those lines, suddenly becomes "295.(pick a number)". And if that doesn't has you see through the dynamics, and for most people it won't, you, of course, start to yell as loud as you possibly could. Which is what everybody has been waiting for, as it allows them to lock you up, and shut you up with Geodon. Ah, peace and quiet, finally! They don't do it consciously, but still, it is what they're doing: getting at you, harassing, bullying you, ever more violently, in order to have you react ever more violently. So that, eventually, they can shut you up, without ever having to admit to, neither to you nor, and maybe even more important, to themselves, that what they call "help", "care" and "love", indeed is abuse, violence.
Doug Bremner writes that he isn't responsible for whatever happened to me, and certainly, in as far as he never harassed, bullied, abused me directly -- at least not until his response to my criticism --, he isn't. But from a broader perspective, in supporting, working for a system that more often than not denies respectively covers up the violence in our society, laundering it, so that it appears to be help, he so is.
Of course, Doug Bremner is far from alone in this. We all do it/have done it, at one time or the other. But that's no excuse for not taking responsibility. And it certainly is no excuse, if you have chosen help and care for people in crisis as your profession. If no one else, as the expert he claims to be, Doug Bremner should be capable of recognizing the dynamics of violence in society, and what they do to people. It isn't impossible. There have been, and there are others who did/do recognize it. R.D. Laing, Silvano Arieti, Richard Bentall, John Read, are just a few of them. Instead, he choses to dismiss both people's personal experiences, calling them for a "symptom" of "schizophrenia", a "delusion", establishing a razor sharp distinction between PTSD and "schizophrenia" -- in lack of biomarkers using terminology: flash backs become "hallucinations", hypervigilance becomes "paranoia", avoidance becomes "withdrawal", "mutism", "catatonia", etc. etc. --, as well as any research that takes people's personal experiences seriously as the "return of the theory of the schizophrenogenic mother", thus issuing a carte blanche for the violence to be continued.
I've seen it being done innumerable times before. Which had me go through the roof this time, are the particular circumstances that made it particularly insidious. The fact that somebody, who, allegedly, is an expert in trauma -- not only professionally, but also and even personally -- denies trauma, and in doing so, adds considerably to it, made the dehumanization I witnessed on his blog, and that I, as someone who got an "sz" label thrown at herself, very non-buddhist, took very personally, so much more appalling in my eyes. So, off I went, right through the roof, and my ego told me exactly how to get at Doug Bremner, and return the insult most efficiently. It is not that I mention his mother, his own history of trauma, but that I do it sarcastically, setting up a trap for him -- which he, or his ego, walked right into -- in not pointing out the fact that I for one, who didn't experience anything but pure emotional abuse/neglect, the most invisible, and hardest to trace and prove kind of abuse/neglect, certainly not am in a position to play down anyone else's trauma. "If he can't figure that out, too bad for him, ha!" That was mean, yes. And I should have taken a step back from my ego, before I wrote my first post about this matter. I'm guilty of not having done that. That I didn't do it consciously, on purpose, doesn't free me from having to take responsibility for it, and I'm sorry.
What I'm not sorry about is that I brought up the matter of discrimination against and dehumanization of labelled people for discussion. An important and necessary discussion to take, I think.
Note that Doug Bremner refers to me as "they", anonymizing me, which could be said to be fine if it wasn't that I was out here, with my full name. Doug Bremner has several times been attacked -- indeed, attacked -- by his own in the past. I've read most of these attacks, and they weren't exactly edifying reading. Some of it was, IMO, clearly below the belt. Nevertheless, and as far as I remember, in his replies to these attacks, Doug Bremner never once anonymized his opponents. So, where is the difference between these people and me? Well, these people, in Doug Bremner's eyes, aren't "mental patients", but people, human beings, persons, with names. No matter how "mean" their attacks, they thus still deserve the respect to not be called "they", as if they were some sort of nonperson. As the "schizophrenic" (=nonperson) I am in his eyes, I don't deserve this respect.
That I have a background in academia, probably broader than Doug Bremner's, and in, among other disciplines, philosophy, according to Wikipedia (yeah, I know... - but it actually sums it up quite well) "the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language", (my italics) while there so far exists no scientific evidence that definitely proves crisis to be a medical, and not an existential problem, is of no importance the moment, I also am the identified "mental patient". Neither is the fact that I am crisis experienced, that I can draw knowledge about crisis not only from observations from the outside, but also from experience from the inside. This is the difference between somatic illness and "mental illness". "Mental illness" isn't and will never be the same as somatic illness, it will never be "like diabetes". Someone suffering from diabetes who says: "This intervention/these pills make/-s me feel sicker," is listened to and taken seriously. The identified "mental patient" who says: "The Geodon makes me feel lousy," is, at best, ignored, if s/he keeps on "complaining", "looking for attention", not to mention if s/he tosses out the Geodon, that makes him/her feel lousy, if s/he rejects psychiatry's "help", and says: "This is not the help I feel, I'm in need of," it qualifies him/her to be forcibly subjected to this very same "help". Any expression of not feeling helped by psychiatry is explained away by defining it as just another "symptom" of the "illness". It is not ever taken seriously, not taken as a sign that maybe the "help" isn't help, that maybe the helpers have overlooked something, that maybe a different approach is needed. It can't be, because the present approach is carefully thought out to do exactly what it does: silencing any protest, any resistance, any dissent, in relation to both psychiatry itself as well as in relation to society in general. As the institution of psychiatry represents the very essence of societal, cultural norms and values, and is designed to protect these against any protest, resistance, and dissent.
Now, it's not that I think that my educational background would make me in any way more respectable, more "worthy", than anybody else. Anybody, disregarded their social, educational, cultural, etc. background and status, deserves to be respected equally, not discriminated against. All life forms actually deserve to be respected. But this isn't how our civilization works. We've established an artificial pecking order where things like education, material wealth, race, gender, and the power they provide, are a lot more important than life itself. We all know that psychiatry promotes this pecking order big time. But since Doug Bremner can't really dismiss my criticism arguing that i would lack education and knowledge -- he tried that, it didn't work out too well -- he resorts to the ultimate dismissal, pathologizing my criticism, and declaring me a nonperson, defining me. That is the power he and his colleagues have been assigned by society, and that I do not have. The power to define others.
The following is taken from an article in a Norwegian journal, Magasinet Selvsagt!, about ableism:
"To deprive people of the power to define themselves is at the core of discrimination, says Salman Rushdie. This is language of power, you are in control of the person in question. The first step on the way to respect people, or groups of people as equal, is to listen to them when they define themselves. The greatest victory for the other discriminated against groups [the article refers to women, gay people, and black people] has probably been that they won the power to define themselves. They have decided on their own who and what they are. They have defined their own group's problems, and they've acted out of this definition. We disabled people haven't managed to do this. We've left it to medical and other professionals, to politicians and the media to define us. We've left it to them to describe us in their language, out of their understanding of us. And we have adopted this understanding, and made it our own." (My translation)
I wouldn't even adopt the term "disability" as the prefix "dis-" usually implies something that is perceived as negative. Anyhow, my mistake was that I actually did it, that I adopted others' definition of myself. I identified with Mark Becker, and Doug Bremner's definition of him as the "schizophrenic", the pickaxe killer, the nonperson, so I confirmed Doug Bremner's power to define me. Instead of taking it from him. It may well be that psychiatrists have the power to define people, but they only have this power to the extent that we react to their provocations, playing the part they've assigned us in their drama.